OCEANSIDE — The progress to improve facilities and greens and add trails and gardens to the Center City Golf Course, locally known as Goat Hill, is slow and steady.
Since July, Goat Hill Partners, John Ashworth, David Emerick and Geoff Cunningham, have taken over management responsibilities with the promise to improve the course.
“We took on the project because of the uniqueness to the facility,” Emerick said. “Goat Hill Park is what golf should be — hanging out with your buddies and it not costing a lot.
“Everybody has a story about Goat Hill.”
The course was built in 1952 as a regulation length nine-hole par 36 layout. It was redesigned by Ludwig Keehn in the early 1990s to be an 18-hole short course.
On Oct. 1 the city finished up its final financial business with the previous manager of the municipal golf course.
To date, Goat Hill Partners have added a new roof to the clubhouse, made electrical improvements, renovated the open-air bar and added new signage. There is also a new fleet of golf carts, and major cleanup of the grounds has been completed.
Emerick said the management plan is to take care of revenue-generating improvements first, by beautifying the clubhouse and getting operational procedures in order.
Goat Hill Partners put up a small slush fund to begin improvements, but most of the work has been done through volunteer efforts and donations, in keeping with the spirit and history of the community-loved course.
“The new roof has all been donated,” Emerick said.
Currently the golf shop is under renovation.
Next on the list is improving the greens. Emerick said plans are to improve the irrigation system and “soften the course up” without making major changes.
“In the fall we’ll move a little dirt here and there to make it more playable,” Emerick said.
The end goal is to further upgrade the greens, open the course to community gatherings on Sundays and allow everyone to enjoy the park and view.
Golfers playing the course on Oct. 5 said they like Goat Hill for its relaxed atmosphere and cool breezes. They added that other courses have strictly enforced time limits for play.
Goat Hill allows golfers to enjoy the game at a minimal fee, and offers all levels of players a challenge. The weekend rate for 18 holes with a cart is $30. Warm up at the driving range is $5.
North County Junior Golf Association has also been using the course for practice and as their team home turf.
Emerick said donations to the Junior Golf Association help support improvements to the Goat Hill Golf Course, which will soon include kids beginner tees.
Top-level instruction from PGA golf professionals is also offered to adults.
“We never planned on making money on the course, we just want it to be for the people and to sustain itself,” Emerick said.
Fundraising is planned, and a grand opening to celebrate the new management team will follow in spring after further improvements are made.